image How to become a Beaujolais expert in 3 minutes

Moulin a Vent Beaujolais wine cork

#1. Beaujolais is a wine made in Beaujolais, a region south of Burgundy. At one point, it was considered by some to be a Burgundy, but it was never accepted up north. Burgundy is a fancy nightclub and Beaujolais never quite got past the big burly bouncer.

#2. Beaujolais is made 100% from the Gamay grape. Nope, no Pinot Noir here.

#3. Beaujolais is light-bodied, fruity, and not terribly complex. In Hollywood, it would be a rom-com. If a Bordeaux were Al Pacino and a Burgundy were Matthew McConaughey after he won the Oscar, a Beaujolais would be Matthew McConaughey before he won the Oscar. And that’s great. Because hey, who didn’t enjoy How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days?

#4. Because of its not-quite-Burgundy address, a Beaujolais is always good value for money, even its top-of-the-line crus.

#5. When shopping for a Beaujolais, think of a three-level pyramid: (3) plain old Beaujolais, (2) Beaujolais-Villages, (1) Beaujolais Cru.

#6. Plain old Beaujolais is made from Gamay grapes sourced from 96 villages all over the Beaujolais region. Beaujolais-Villages is made from grapes from the top 38 villages. And Beaujolais Cru is made from grapes from a single one of the top 10 crème de la crème crus. But ‘Beaujolais Cru’ doesn’t appear on the label, which leads me to my next point.

#7. You recognize a Beaujolais Cru when you know the names of the 10 crus. But 10 is 7 too many. As a start, just know these three: Moulin-a-Vent (king of Beaujolais), Fleurie (queen of Beaujolais), and the largest cru of them all, Brouilly.

#8. Beaujolais is light-bodied, has red fruity notes, low tannins, and a refreshing acidity. They say it tastes of bananas, but I’ve never detected that.

#9. Beaujolais is high on the quaffability scale. And no, quaffability is by no means a derogatory term. The New York Times wine critic Eric Asimov shows Beaujolais some love when he wrote: “If you don’t love a good Beaujolais, you don’t love wine.”

#10. Drink it lightly chilled. Sure, it goes with food, but because it’s so easy to drink, you’d be just as happy drinking it on its own.


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